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I tossed and turned again last night, so that was nice. As Colin was making breakfast, it started to rain, so that was nice. The rain didn’t last very long, so that really was nice.
This was going to be a momentous day.
We went along a ‘bridleway known locally as Sandy Lane – though more clarty than sandy’, according to the guide book  (p.111). The guide book went on to define clarty, but, as a (proper) northerner, I know what it means. Colin does too, because I’ve
learnt him it. It means
muddy. Sandy Lane was more hard earth, then sandy, then grassy than clarty. No clarts at all, in fact.
After that, we hit the wall, the actual Roman wall that Hadrian may or may not have had built (the guide book (ch.2) says the origins are quite murky, but it was probably already there before Severus (not Snape) came to town, so it probably wasn’t him who had it built, no matter what his son said) – not that you could see it: it was hidden under the grass, so that there was an embankment to walk along with a ditch running along each side.
There were cows in the field. I was a bit wary, especially when two or three of them came running at us. It turned out they were just gathering momentum to run up to the top of the embankment behind us.
We got to Blea Tarn, where the camp site that was Plan B last night is; it looked quite dried up. There was what looked a tumble of rocks from a gate that was actually steps up to the gate. There were sheep on the tumbled rocks. The photo shows the sheep on the tumbled rocks. They’re cute sheep. They moved out of the way a little while after we asked them to.
My poles helped me up the tumbled rocks. I love my poles.
We stopped at a bench, where there was a good view of the rather tall weir that fish wouldn’t be able to jump up in Cam Beck. At the time, Cam Beck didn’t put me in mind of the River Cam, possibly because it was nothing like it, what with them being so unlike each other. After we’d spent quite some time at the bench, we moved on.
Walton was our next stop, specifically the Reading Room. This wasn’t an establishment in which to peruse literature or current affairs, but a place for the older generations of Walton and its environs to have their Sunday lunch at Sunday lunch time. We got a can of pop each, and drank them outside in the sun. I chatted to a lovely lady who was sitting at a picnic table collecting a takeaway.
Another diversion in the path took us down a tarmac road with cyclists zipping past as if they were taking part in a cycling event or something. These diversions start off as temporary, but seem to become permanent after some time.
Back on the path, we came across another snack hut with honesty box. Down the road a bit was a public toilet. We decided to have a quick stop down the road before having a look in the snack shed.
We nearly missed the public toilet. It was actually a blue portaloo lost in the scraggy hedgerow. I made Colin go first. He came back with a report that didn’t make me feel willing to use it. Still, nature had been calling for quite some time, so I braved it. It was minging, but perhaps not as bad as the public toilets, also portaloos, at the top of a cliff in San Diego, which didn’t even have hand sanitiser. Icky.
At the snack hut, we got some crisps. The guide book said it also had t-shirts, but we only found leaflets with a website. We wouldn’t have bought t-shirts anyway: they’re just something else to squeeze in the rucksack and carry.
At Hare Hill, there is a huge amount of wall-related excitement when coming from the west: a length of actual real wall that wasn’t hidden by anything! The information board said that most of the wall had been taken away to build a priory (I’m assuming the nearish-by Lanercost Priory), except for one tall bit. One theory is that a mediaeval farmer had looked at the wall and thought it’d be great as the wall of one of his farm buildings.
Our campsite wasn’t far after this excitement. We were confused by a sign that said there was a campsite on the opposite side of the road to where we were expecting with a different name to the one we were expecting.
Nevertheless, we headed up the long lane alongside the house and back garden to find a couple had already set up camp near a picnic table. We went to another picnic table on the other side of the toilet block, where we pitched the tent, unpacked and got changed. The only other picnic table is up a slope near a shepherd’s hut that looks more like a steroetypical-but-plain gypsy’s caravan to me.
There are no shower facilities at this campsite, and the toilet is a composting one. Despite this, it’s much nicer than last night’s, and I feel happier here.
I washed my shorts in the sink, which is beside (not inside) the toilet block, and hung them up to dry on the picnic table by the shepherd’s hut, where the sun shone with a surprising amount of heat. In a reversal of roles, Colin thought it too hot, whereas I thought it quite nice.
No pubs nearby, so our tea was the crisps we’d bought earlier, soup, then noodles.
There is a poster up in the composting toilet shed about the cycling event we’d observed earlier, but I haven’t taken a photo of it because it’s in the composting toilet shed.
Looking at the guide book (p.122) solved the mystery of what the unearthly screeching noise was: there’s a field of donkeys nearby.
Later, three blokes turned up and set up a tent each by the shepherd’s hut; that’s not allowed, but it seems clear no one is going to be staying there tonight, so it’s fine. They have their own composting toilet up there.
The sun has gone down beyond the trees in a blaze of fire.
- (2020). Hadrian’s Wall Path, 6th edition. Trailblazer Publications: Surrey, UK